Times of Israel: Debate on Temple Mount Worship Rocks Knesset
BY ADIV STERMAN AND GAVRIEL FISKE February 25, 2014, 10:29 pm
A first-of-its-kind debate over the right of non-Muslims to enter, and pray at, the Temple
Mount compound in Jerusalem was held at the Knesset on Tuesday, with over 30 MKs
from both right wing and left wing parties requesting to voice their opinion on the divisive
Almost all of the parliament’s Arab members chose not to attend the discussion in protest over the
decision to hold it.
The debate, headlined “the loss of Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount” and rescheduled from
last week, was initiated by right-wing lawmaker MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), whose visits to the
Temple Mount have drawn media and police attention. Feiglin was arrested for praying there in
October 2012 and January 2013, before he became an MK, and visited the Mount earlier this week
ahead of the debate.
“The Israeli leadership is shirking its calling,” Feiglin said at the opening of the session, during
which he called for Jewish freedom of worship at the site where the first and second Jewish
temples once stood.
“Behind the back of our people we gave up on any vestige of Israeli sovereignty at the Mount.
Every terrorist organization can wave their flag there, but the flag of Israel? It must not be
mentioned. Reciting a psalm is grounds for arrest. Even wearing a skullcap [at the site] is
inadvisable by police standards.”
The Temple Mount is jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the Jerusalem-based
Islamic Waqf, an arrangement that has been in place since Israel captured the Old City and East
Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed them. Regarded as a holy site by both
Judaism and Islam, proposed changes to the status quo at the Mount are often a source of unrest.
Police restrictions bar Jews from praying or engaging in other religious activities while on visits to
the Mount for fear that they will provoke a violent reaction from Muslims.